In March of 2018, a small group of Facebook employees noticed that their advertising was being redirected to an ad network called Adsense.
Adsense was a popular network that had been around since 2008 and allowed advertisers to pay for a variety of marketing services from Google and Amazon.
This led to a few questions: How was this happening?
What was going on?
And more importantly, what was the impact of this?
Adsense has been around for years, but it was only in the last few years that it was increasingly used to target advertisers and increase their ad revenue.
To understand what was going wrong, the AdSense team, including lead designer and CEO Mark Kritzer, decided to investigate.
The AdSense network, which was essentially a “pay to play” service, had been designed to offer advertisers the best advertising they could get.
The network offered a few benefits: Advertisers could get high-quality ads with higher click-through rates, more consistent ad revenue, and a higher conversion rate.
Advertiser content and advertising could be shared across all of AdSense’s paid and paid-for products.
AdSense also provided a way for advertisers to generate revenue by generating revenue for their own ad campaigns.
But the biggest benefit of Adsense, according to Kritler and his team, was the ability to target ads to specific demographics: people who are older, less-educated, and more affluent.
“The big thing with Adsense is that it’s a platform where you can target your ads to people who you know that you like,” Kriter said.
“It’s a really powerful platform to reach these specific audiences.”
AdSense was a big success for the company.
By the end of the first quarter of 2019, Adsense had over a million unique users, according an AdSense spokesperson.
But after the first month, the company noticed that a few advertisers were using Adsense more frequently.
“We’re seeing more and more people doing that,” Kruster said, “and they’re targeting ads for people who they know.
The number of ads we’re seeing, the quality of the ads, and the amount of click-ups, and all the other metrics we’re tracking, are all really telling us that we’re going to see an increase in those types of behaviors over the next year.”
By August of 2019 and September of 2019 AdSense started seeing more ads being redirected from Adsense to Adsense’s paid services, which were being used by a large number of advertisers.
“That’s when we started seeing an increase of targeted ads being sent out to those advertisers,” Kutch said.
These targeted ads included ads that targeted certain demographics: young people, college students, older people, and wealthier people.
Kriters team noticed a lot of ads that looked like they were targeting a specific demographic, and they wanted to know why.
Adverse effects on AdSense and Adsense ad network The first thing AdSense noticed was that there was a lot more Adsense advertising that was targeting younger people.
“I don’t think that the Adsense platform has been designed for targeting older audiences, so people weren’t using it as much,” Kriticzer said.
Advertisements that targeted older people were being redirected out of Adense, as well.
“Adsense had a very robust advertising platform and we saw that younger people were spending more on Adsense,” Krazer said of AdWords.
“So it looked like there was an increase on those Adsense ads, but there was also an increase for those AdSense ads targeted to older people.”
By September of 2020, the amount that Adsense advertisers were spending on AdWords was increasing by over 30% per quarter, according a spokesperson for Adsense at the time.
By October of 2020 and November of 2020 AdSense reported a 20% increase in the amount it spent on Adwords ads compared to the same quarter in 2019.
“What we saw was that younger, less educated people are spending more and spending more money on Adense than they used to,” Kritis said.
But as Kritzer and his colleagues started noticing, there was more to AdSense than just demographics targeting.
“They were also spending more in those AdWords ads that they were using to target older people,” Kribers said.
This was a particularly troubling finding.
By targeting older people specifically, AdSense may have unintentionally increased the amount they were spending for older ads, which could have affected their ad sales and their revenue.
Kriber and Krits team realized that their AdSense advertising was making Adsense even less attractive to advertisers.
This could have potentially led to AdWords becoming a more lucrative service for AdSense.
To investigate this further, the team decided to look into AdSense for itself.
Adwords is a web app that lets advertisers create and manage their own ads.
The team started looking at Adsense and found that they weren’t targeting the demographic they thought they were